Police in Stamford have a message for drivers: if you use electronics while you’re behind the wheel of a car, you’re going to pay.
As part of April’s designation as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, local police announced a crackdown on distracted driving, beginning on Monday and spanning through April 30
According to police, officers in marked and unmarked vehicles will be "out in force looking for distracted drivers as part of the U Drive. U Text. U Pay campaign, a high-visibility effort to enforce distracted driving laws."
Distracted driving has reached the top of the list of growing dangers on local roadways, surpassing aggressive or impaired drivers, according to a study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety this week.
The study states that 88 percent of drivers contend that distracted driving is on the rise, a 30 percent increase in just five years. The release of the report comes as several local law enforcement agencies announce their intentions to ramp up distracted driving enforcement details in April, which has been designated as “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”
In the study, 49 percent of those surveyed reported that they’ve talked on cellphones while driving, and 35 percent admitted that they’ve sent a text or email, “even though most believe it’s wrong to do while driving.” The survey also found that “nine out of 10 drivers nationwide reflect a ‘do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do’ attitude” in regards to cellphone use while driving.
It is estimated that nearly 700,000 people use a cellphone while driving in America each day. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a crash is four times as likely if a driver is distracted, whether it’s on a hands-free device or not.
In Stamford, distracted driving can cost repeat offenders up to $500 and can lead to a potential suspension of a driver’s license.“Distracted driving is a real problem,” Stamford Police Assistant Chief Tom Wuennmann stated. “During this enforcement period, officers will be ticketing anyone who is texting or on their phone while behind the week. The bottom line is if you text and drive, you will pay.”
According to Stamford police, "Drivers are continuously ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel, and distracted driving is a growing and deadly threat on our roadways. The Stamford Police Department is teaming up with the Connecticut Department of Transportation during the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) National Distracted Driving Awareness month to make sure all motorists keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.
To keep motorists safe, AAA released a handful of tips to help avoid distracted driving:
- Put aside electronic distractions and refrain from using text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.
- Pre-program your GPS; adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before driving.
- Properly secure children and pets; and store loose possessions and other items that could roll around in the car.
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